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This question reflects the ultimate metric of success in B2B Marketing today. After all, if content, communication, distribution and marketing are a success, the leads surely follow — right?
Actually…in an effort to stream in gazillions of leads, many teams lose sight of what actually matters — long-term conversion, loyalty and happy customers. Which, honestly, can be the harder nut to crack when you have multiple audiences, a long sales-cycle, and a prospect’s heavy-duty decision-making process.
So, let’s get real, people. Leads are not numbers. They’re people. They’re busy. They’re swamped. And they should never, ever be considered a notch in our belt.
Let’s Obsess Less About Numbers
In that monthly meeting with the C-Suite, are you bringing in metrics showing the volume of new leads? Does the table cheer loudly, challenge low numbers or simply nod in agreement with the “we’re holding steady” results?
The reality is that numbers alone do not tell the whole story of Lead Generation success.
Let’s Stop Setting Up the Sales Team for Failure
It’s an understandable knee-jerk reaction. You see a list of leads and assume it’s a “pot o’ gold” that the sales team will surely be thankful for. So, you waste no time in lobbing any and all leads their way. You consider the leads “captured,” check it off your to-do list and proudly pass the “buck” on to sales. But is your job really done?
Let’s look at the stats:
- 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales. Yet, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
- Just 56% of B2B organizations verify valid business leads before they are passed to Sales. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
The poor sales team!
(As a life-long marketer myself I can’t believe just said that)
No wonder they don’t follow up, don’t reach their quotas and can’t seem to make anything from that “pot o’ gold.” Half of that gold isn’t even real.
Let’s Obsess More About Qualification
It’s so much harder to qualify leads before shooting them over to sales. Yet, without doing so, our content marketing and lead generation efforts end up simply as “Cry Wolf” campaigns that the sales team will choose to ignore.
The Truth About Qualifying Leads
Both Marketing and Sales teams alike often identify a lead as “qualified” if they’re ready to buy or clearly fit the “profile” of a buyer.
But remember, 50% of leads are “qualified” but still not yet ready to buy. (Source: Gleanster Research)
And, only 25% of leads are legitimate and should even advance to sales. (Source: Gleanster Research)
Let’s Obsess Most About Nurturing
So, how are you supposed to separate the “ready” from the “reluctant?”
This is actually easier than you think. Instead of pressuring yourself to decide whether a lead is ready for sales, determine whether the lead is ready to be nurtured.
Here’s the beauty of this approach…
By creating a courting (nurture) strategy that delivers high-value content, information, education and resources you put the lead in charge of qualifying himself.
Assuming you’ve got a solid Marketing Automation system in place, a simple scoring structure reveals exactly where you stand with each lead. As he clicks, reads, downloads, considers, learns and becomes more confident in his decision, he begins to move himself towards a sale.
Let’s be clear. This is not about cajoling or coercing leads through the funnel. This is not about “convincing” them. Instead, it’s about providing information that most often causes the light bulbs to go on, eyebrows to go up and even more “curious” questions to arise. As you “listen” and build a library of helpful content, contacts respond by either disqualifying or qualifying themselves as leads.
Let’s Make Content the Sales Team’s Best Friend
79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
But how many of those leads could have been saved with nurturing content that respectfully and clearly helped them through their learning and decision-making process?
Companies that excel at lead nurturing have 9% more sales reps making quota. (Source: CSO Insights)
By producing content that genuinely nurtures leads while qualifying the leads before shooting them over to sales, we create a win-win for both sides (prospect and sales). Show your sales team the scoring process within your Marketing Automation system. Work with them to understand the buying cycle. And, if you overhaul your approach, be sure they know about it. After all, they’ll need to time to embrace the transformation from a “Cry Wolf” lead list to a “Warm and Ready Lead” list.